By Yvonne Castle, CEO of Johnnie Johnson and GMHP lead for Covid recovery.
Greater Manchester Housing Providers is made up of 24 housing providers that manage over 250,000 homes within the Greater Manchester area. Together we provide one in five homes for people across the city region.
Our organisations are all different shapes and sizes – large and small, general and specialist, Arms-Length Management Organisations (ALMO), Large Scale Voluntary Transfers (LSVT) or housing associations. Many are steeped in history like my own organisation, Johnnie Johnson Housing, which was set up by an RAF hero who wanted to build homes for veterans and people in their later life.
GMHP members have worked together for many years, pooling resources, time and energy, but most importantly taking action to make a difference in communities around Greater Manchester.
What makes GMHP different is that we have a Tripartite Agreement signed by Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, our Greater Manchester Combined Authority and ourselves as GMHP. With health formally included in this, we can now really work together on making a difference to all aspects of people’s lives. A happy home is a healthy home.
We recognise the hardship many people have faced as a result of coronavirus. One in ten of our Greater Manchester residents have told us that they have experienced at least one of the following:
- They have had coronavirus.
- They have lost their job since the start of the pandemic.
- Someone else in their household has lost their job.
- They have needed to borrow money during the pandemic.
That’s why we have developed a Covid Resilience Plan, which directly feeds into that of GMCA. The plan focuses on major issues that Greater Manchester as a whole needs to respond to, building resilience and tackling inequalities and poverty revealed or exacerbated by the pandemic.
Our plan is people-focused with three themes: health, wealth and communities. Equality, diversity and inclusion are also woven into the plan, this is an important part of our approach as those inequalities often directly lead to people being less well off.
Our ambitions over the next 12 months include:
- Supporting employment, training and development with apprenticeships, kick-start placements and qualifications. Our focus here is on new programmes to support people into the zero carbon and digital industries, ensuring that we open doors for more women, disabled people, care leavers, older people and Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) residents into these industries.
- Delivering mental health training across our workforces and widening access to mental health services for our residents.
- Continuing our efforts to end homelessness.
As we move away from restrictions relating to the pandemic, our view is one of continued caution. Greater Manchester does continue to have rising rates and GMHP colleagues are working around the clock, with the local authority, police, fire and voluntary services, as well as health colleagues, to keep people safe and increase vaccination levels.
We have a lot of challenges ahead. Guided by our plan, however, we will continue to remain relentlessly optimistic in creating, with our partners, a brighter future for our Greater Manchester residents and communities.